SA rejects new Zimbabwe travel document
Harare – Scores of Zimbabweans are stranded at the Beitbridge Border Post after South African authorities refused to accept the recently introduced Temporary Travelling Documents. Reports indicate that South African port officials allegedly fired their guns to frighten the affected travellers into crossing back to the Zimbabwean side of the border.
Among the travellers who were allegedly shepherded back with the guns was an eight-year-old Zimbabwean girl who was reportedly hauled off a bus at around midnight on Tuesday. The South African authorities allegedly fired gunshots to scare away a group that included the minor (name supplied) and her 17-year-old sister.
South African police and border officials denied the allegations while their
Zimbabwean counterparts said they had heard gunfire. Some officers, speaking off the record, confirmed receiving the reports and said they were investigating. The father of the eight-year-old girl yesterday lodged an official complaint with the South African Embassy in Harare.
South African Home Affairs Department officials started turning away
Zimbabweans on Tuesday night saying they had not been officially notified of the introduction of the new travel document. They said they had not seen a specimen of an authentic TTD. The unfortunate travellers were directed to the Registrar-General’s Office in Beitbridge.
Some of them told The Herald that those with Emergency Travel Documents were being cleared for single entries of up to a maximum of 21 days. Among those affected was a team of karatekas, led by Tendai Chipunza, who were scheduled to participate in a tournament in Cape Town.
“We hope the situation will be resolved as soon as possible because we are supposed to participate at a karate tournament of 24 April in Cape Town. In the meantime, we are just pinning our hopes on authorities from the Passport Office and Home Affairs” Chipunza said.
Assistant regional immigration officer (southern region) Mr Charles Gwede said efforts to negotiate with their South African counterparts had so far been in vain.
“We have tried to liaise with our counterparts, but they said they are still verifying the issue with their authorities as per the normal immigration protocols between the two governments. We hope the issue will be resolved as soon as possible. At the moment we have notified our principals and Zimbabwe’s Consulate in South Africa and they are still consulting with their hosts,” he said.
Mr Gwede, however, said he was yet to get a report on the alleged shootings. Zimbabwe’s Consular-General in South Africa, Mr Chris Mapanga, said: “We are working towards resolving the issue with our host government and they are currently addressing the issue through their communications systems.
“This is just a small logistical issue, but we are working flat out to ensure a smooth flow of traffic between the countries.” Home Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi said he would provide a detailed response today.
“I have received such reports but we are still investigating the issue and we will be able to give a satisfactory answer tomorrow (today). If the South Africans say they had not been informed of the new document, we are going to inform them,” he said.
Government introduced TTDs, which are valid for six months, on April 14 partly because of the proliferation of fake ETDs. http://www.herald.co.zw